I returned to the US two years ago after 20+ years overseas. In 1989 I spent one year in Eugene. A large part of my life has been spent living in traditional ethnic communities. My personal interest was simple ... make fires without matches and what did humans do before refrigeration and doctors. As a natural health practitioner I could offer a skill that filled the gap between traditional health and the modern medical system that was far away, expensive and limited.
In the mid1990s I immigrated to New Zealand and grew up politically there. New Zealand was the lead country in The Great Global Restructuring. I decided to return to our messy democracy rather then to continue to live in a parliamentary democracy.
In the Traditional communities (diverse cultures) showed me that we are all One Humanity. We all blink, cough and can tighten up our rectum. At the same time we have an amazing Human Mind. We use that Mind to create our cultures, languages, the way we cook and build houses, the tone we use in our voice, the way we express emotions, the gestures we make, what we consider to be polite or rude, how we determine respect, teach or learn skills. Every aspect of our lives as human beings is determined by our Mind in how we interact with our environment and others around us.
We can doubt that but even things like going to the toilet, how we eat or make love is determined by how our Mind decides to use our human body. We are a composite of our commonality ... we all put food in our mouth ... yet divided by our Mind ... what foods we put in our mouth.
Recently I attended an intensive study at Mondragon, the Basque Country worker-owners. Although there are 256 autonomous worker-owner cooperatives they have discovered a system of functional democracy and consensus that reminds me of the many traditional democracies. This was remarkable to me because I was able to see a modern society integrate a form of democracy that I liked into a modern work environment with an intent that this involvement is part of the societal fabric of life.
I returned to Eugene ... this is my third winter. When I returned I let others know that I worked as a 'Gap Filler' (helping to sort out those irritating gaps that stop things from running smoothly). People didn't understand that so I changed the term I used to 'De-Confuser'. In other words I could help people, families, organizations, businesses to reduce the confusion that was causing disharmony. Last year I was asked to change the term to Clarifier. So, I see and hear the gaps, I help to sort out the confusion by bringing clarity/common sense to any situation.
What I see at OE are some amazing efforts ... especially in those affinity groups that are already using 'functional democracy' ... engineering and the kitchen. I also know that people who have lived on the fringe are coming together in one place, some are truly involved with the larger OE movement.
On the other hand, I believe this ideology that an open democracy is our goal just passes me by. I see and hear the gaps. I see that 'how things are being done' are not functional, healthy, sustainable or even reflecting the larger intention of the OE movement.
Everyone is welcome. And I have a strong belief that we need to very rapidly develop skills. If OE is an opportunity to learn how to redevelop communities if peak oil and climate change are real and truly a threat to our modern world then we need to more clearly look at what functional democracies can do ... and we need to teach those skills to as many as possible right now ... in this experience.